Burnley boss Sean Dyche insists he is far from surprised at Joey Barton’s speedy transition back into Premier League life.
Barton put a tumultuous period at Rangers behind him when he moved back to the north-west earlier this month and repaid Dyche’s faith by scoring the winner against Southampton on Saturday.
The 34-year-old could feature again on Tuesday as Burnley host Sunderland in their FA Cup third-round replay and Dyche insisted he never had any doubts about bringing such an often controversial figure back into the fold.
Dyche said: “Joey has had an interesting life and he gets used to what comes with it.
“I don’t think he over-thinks it – he just keeps moving forward and I respect that. He doesn’t get an easy ride as a footballer but I don’t think he worries about it – he just worries about what he can do for the team.”
Dyche made six changes for the original goalless draw between the two teams and may make roughly the same number again for the replay, with his options limited by the continued absence of Scott Arfield and Johan Berg Gudmundsson due to injury.
But unlike some fellow Premier League managers who have come in for criticism after making wholesale changes to their FA Cup line-ups, Dyche insisted his own alterations will prove anything but disrespectful to the competition.
Dyche added: “I enjoyed the performance (in the first game) – a lot was made of it not being a good game but I was certainly pleased with my players.
“We made enough chances to have won the game and we’ve got to try and do it again. If I make changes it is because I believe in our squad and there is a better depth to our squad than we have had in the past.”
Saturday’s win over Southampton moved the Clarets up to 10th place in the table but Dyche dismissed the suggestion that his side’s promising league form may allow him to be more bullish about focusing on potential success in the cup.
“There are no guarantees – we’ve given a really good account of ourselves so far this season but it has to be looked at as a whole – good or bad – at the end of the season,” he said.
“The future is in front of us and it is up to us to go and grip it and take control of it and we are doing so when we can. But we don’t take anything for granted and our focus remains on the next game.”